Ria's Collection: September 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


It's my little brother's birthday and he turned 18 today. He's grown up so much from the last time I saw him. He is 6'3" now but is still the same soft hearted little boy we know. He still irritates me the same way every time I bake a cake or every time he wants me to bake a pizza for him. I was doing the swirls on his birthday cake very calmly and there he comes asking for a big piece of the cake. I told him 'NO!, you can't today!' and he goes,'I want that cake today and not tomorrow, so give it to me!'. Argh! That irritating little brother! ;) He even warned me that he will be attacking the cake while I am fast asleep dreaming of all things possible. That ended my hope of sleeping peacefully last night :-D
Oh yes, in our house we all know what cake we are getting for our birthdays because we cannot hide it from each other as we have just one fridge which is raided by all of us for some goodies or the other every now and then!
This is a technique I've been waiting to try from atleast 13-14 years now and today was that day! It's a very very simple technique and I'm up for these things anytime! You would have seen that in my Checkerboard Cake  & Honeycomb Cake . Call me crazy but I love standing near the cake analyzing how to slice it so that I can get the design I have in mind. You will find me walking around the cake, bending down to get it to eye level, standing up scratching my head...as if it's an experiment. Oh yes! all these are my little experiments :)

Ritchie b'day1
I saw this cake many many moons ago for the first time in my favourite little town called Panjim, Goa. It was in my dream store called 'Pastry Cottage'. Me and my cousin,Tia, the newly-wed now, went there together and I was in a complete paradise. I must have stood there and gazed at all the different varieties it had to offer and the one thing which caught my complete attention was the 'Chocolate Pyramid' cake. I stood there and wondered how on earth did the baker manage to get those vertical stripes when Amma make horizontal ones.

I got out of the store with a vision in my mind...If I ever open up a Cake shop, this is how it would be. Really, it was my wonderland. I wanted to go there this time when we went to Goa but we were so hard pressed for time with all the wedding preparations, rehearsals and above all, meeting all my family on Amma's side. We all stayed at the Panjim Inn and had a gala time. We are quite large with 75 members and still counting so you can imagine what fun it would have been to get together and stay under the same roof. I pity the neighbours! ;-)
Ritchie b'day

The beautiful crockery you see in the photographs are my Grandmother's .Appan came up with this brilliant idea of searching through her crockery collection to match the cake for today :-) She has this amazing collection of the best crockery possible and this is just 1/5th of it. I inherited her craze for crockery and cooking :-) The one you see above is handpainted and Made in England and they were bought by her in late 60's early 70's.There are plenty more in her collection and some of them are so exquisite that we can never find such pieces now.I'm sure she would have been gleaming if she was alive to see this here. I bet she is the one who is pushing me into all these things that lead me to winning the title,'Pachakarani '. Even Amma believes the same :)
This cake was made in a jiffy with a sponge cake & a ganache recipe which is engraved on my brain. Wake me up at whatever time of the night  you want and ask me to bake a cake for you, I'll bake you this one :-) I must have baked this sponge some 100 times and it's worked for me always! Just make sure you beat the batter on high continuously for 12 mins...no breaks for phone calls please ;-)Let me not try and explain and then confuse you with the how-to for the 'triangular' part of the cake. I learnt this by reading a lot of material from the library all this while and finally found a link online which will make things a LOT easier for you :) I should have checked for it online instead of all the work I made my brain do :-)

Ritchie's b'day cake
You will need:
1 large Coffee sponge cake (Recipe source  -Amma)
1 large portion of Chocolate Ganache

For the Coffee sponge cake:
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour/maida
2 tbsp cornstarch/cornflour
1 tsp instant coffee powder

Pre-heat the oven to 180C .
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar on high for 12 minutes resulting in a very thick mousse like batter. Sift the dry ingredients over it and fold it in.
Pour the batter into a prepared rectangular cake tin and bake for 30-35 mins or till the skewer inserted comes out clean. Let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then flip it over onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Once cooled, cut the cake into half horizontally and then into 3 which will give you 6 small rectangular pieces of cake.

For the Chocolate Ganache:
250 ml fresh cream/heavy whipping cream
250 g dark chocolate

Chop the chocolate into equal sized pieces and reserve them in a heatproof bowl.
Bring the cream to a boil and then pour it over the chocolate pieces. Let stand for 3-4 mins.
Stir till you get a nice chocolate-y cream. You can chill it for 15-20 mins to get a thicker consistency which is what I prefer.

Verdict: This cake was superb! I know it's just a plain coffee sponge and a good ganache, but it was really really good. That's because the cake layers were super thin and every layer was sandwiched with a thick layer of ganache which resulted in the melt-in-your-mouth texture. I will not recommend soaking the layers for this kind of a cake because it will be super messy to cut to form a triangle. Therefore use a cake which is not dry.

We loved it! Appan said,'This cake is awesome!How did you make it so good?'. Amma asked for a second piece and knowing the cake-hater that she is, it sure must have been good. Ritchie, the birthday boy, a man of very few words stood there and gobbled up 2 pieces in a row. I had my share of this cake after the photo session was over and Ritchie found me smiling and he asked me why :-) The entire cake was cut and devoured in less than 20 mins!

I'm pleased with the photographs here because none of them were edited! :-)

Friday, September 23, 2011



Iam back home,in Kannur. Got here late last night and I still feel that I am moving even if I sit on a chair :) The whole trip of ours (Amma & myself) was so much fun! We had a wedding to attend in Goa and then the reception in Delhi, so we thought of visiting our relatives and family who lived in between :) So for the last 2 weeks we travelled from Kannur to Goa to Delhi to Haryana to Agra to Gwalior to Kashmir back to Delhi and finally back to Kannur.

It definately feels good to be back home, to stretch your legs and to sleep on the same bed you have been sleeping for years together.I didn't know we missed our home much until Amma started making lunch this afternoon. She was sauteeing Tindoora/Kovakka for a  Mezhukkupuratti and our home was filled with the aroma of coconut oil! Seriously, there's no place like home!

So here's a photograph I took from Lake Nageen. Please do not mistake it for the Dal lake which is the most popular one among the Indian tourists. Lake Nageen is less crowded and therefore is preferred more amongst the foreign tourists.We decided to go there because of it being less crowded. Actually we were the only tourists who were there at that time therefore it was a very pleasant experience.The 'shikara' (the boat you see in the photograph)is very comfortably done up that we can actually sleep in it :)

I shall be back with some more photographs for all those who haven't been to the 'Paradise On Earth' - Kashmir.

Till then,

Thursday, September 15, 2011


There's so much to tell you all, so very much! Sadly that will have to wait as I'm travelling right now covering 3-4 states in a day's time, in India.I'm off to Kashmir tomorrow to spend sometime with my family, Jobin's sisters family. So when I return, I shall update you with some pictures that I took from here and there during my small trip. Also, I must tell you that I am so badly tanned by the Goa sun! It seems it was raining there all this while but the days we were there, the sun was shining gloriously and I feared I would look like a pakora in my bestest cousin's bridesmaid dress, which I did in the end :-)

Okay, now about the picture you just saw above. Some of you must have read it on newspaper or read about it on Facebook There was a competition that me and Amma had enrolled  for and we were lucky enough to be selected together. It was such a happy moment for the two of us ! There was a preliminary round where I baked a Triple Veggie Quiche & BBQ Chicken Meat balls. I came first in the 'Malabar' zone and was qualified for the finals at the State level. Amma came second. Then the finals were held in Kottayam on Sept. 6th at Windsor Castle. I made my forever favourite Chatti Pathiri & Mocha Chocolate Mascarpone Verrine. Those were my winning dishes. I never thought I'd win. I just wanted to participate along with Amma as it's very rare for a mother-daughter duo to reach finals together. All these dishes were made on the spot so we really have to prove it to them that we can do it :)

The title I earned is 'Pachakarani 2011' which means I'm the Queen of Cooking for 2011 at the Kerala state level. It was conducted by a very popular Malayalam magazine 'Vanitha' in collaboration with Whirlpool.It's such a huge honor for me as there were so many seasoned cooks competing along with me for that title. We were judged by the Executive Chefs of Taj & Dietitians. I've been to the finals of the same 4 years ago in 2008 where I came 5th. This time, I was able to prove better :-) I am so happy for Amma too since she bagged the 2nd place :) We were the most happiest souls on earth that day.

When this photograph came on the newspaper, we were travelling so Appan had to scan and send it to me yesterday once he reached home :)

Will be back with more updates,shortly! I hope all of you are doing well! Thanks to all who wrote to me after seeing this article on the newspaper :-) You guys make me feel so loved & special!! Thank you :)
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